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Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down while walking in sight of the Kremlin late Friday, prompting an international chorus of condemnation. The murder of the 55-year-old politician, an outspoken critic of Russia's involvement in Ukraine, came ahead of a major opposition rally he was set to lead this weekend and sent shock waves across the country. US President Barack Obama led condemnation of the "brutal" and "vicious murder" of Nemtsov, whom he had met on a visit to Moscow, and called on Russia to conduct an impartial probe of the killing.
International monitors said the conflict in Ukraine was at a "crossroads" as further losses among government forces rattled a two-week-old truce just as it seemed to be gaining traction. The deaths of three Ukrainian soldiers after a two-day lull in clashes with pro-Russian separatists highlighted the fragility of the ceasefire as the UN said some five million people needed humanitarian aid due to the conflict. The envoy to Ukraine for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the peace deal, told the UN Security Council that while there were encouraging signs, the country still risked all-out war. The uprising in Ukraine's east began the following month.